Weaponizing Big Data
Personal data for good or evil?
Cambridge Analytica – more information in Guardian articles
UK company using data on US citizens
Farming Facebook likes and other data to determine your preferences
Profiles of voters -> targeted/personalized advertising to specific groups
Targeted less well informed people
Emotional decision making style rather than information based
Advertising to create rifts and conflict
CA involved in PsyOps, behavioral targeting
Persionaldata.io – extract what personal data CA/others? has on you
Links to explainer videos
Examples of what to write to CA to reclaim your data
Mercer – owner/funder of CA, also Breitbart
Our personal information can be used to shape our behavior
Topics in mainstream media can be manipulated to increase polarization
Already being done by both sides, but possibly more money/resources on the other side
Progressive side – lots of ethical concerns that inhibit use of this technology
What is allowed from an ethical perspective?
More data gives you better models, but should you collect that data
Rights vs ethics
Rights determined by laws, ethics are more expansive
GDPR increasing awareness of rights/developing new rights
We might have a right to the underlying information, but not the model/results
What did Cambridge Analytica actually accomplish? Is it just better marketing?
FB like data was at least 2-3 years old, no longer available
Is there something unique in the machine learning they used?
Cambridge Analytica did a better job of leveraging the moment
Are their algorithms better or are they just using their models more aggressively/less ethically?
No patents on algorithms, others can develop comparable models
Without laws against it, why wouldn’t actors use data-heavy models to influence behavior?
Is the bigger/underlying problem Facebook’s ad targeting?
How accessible is machine learning for groups with fewer resources?
Cambridge Analytica might not have been using machine learning – we don’t know
Takes relatively little money to use microtargeted ads on FB
How much influence/reach do you need?
How disturbed are we by FB? Would we stop using it?
Analogy to concerns on climate changing but still driving a car
Some countries have very strict campaigning and messaging laws – elections in France
FB able to implement those rules
Current hearings, showing bipartisan anger against FB
Possibility of regulation
When there were more limits on media/distribution, fewer people had access to that media
FB democratized access to media/influence, but is currently less regulated
Transparency – what do the companies know?
Right to opt-in/opt-out of data use
Need stronger rights in that area, without requiring that you leave the platform
Without changing the tech companies or regulating, are there things we can do to use these tools for good?
Toolkit for nonprofits
Maintain a strong social media presence, don’t let your nonprofit get impersonate
How do we use technical tools without violating ethics?
Google gives ad money to organizations for good – may not be the best model
Other models for ethics
Organic farming – growing success, considering not just the price
How to call someone out when they aren’t behaving
We don’t know what the ethical issues are because the tech is a black box
What is the application for ML in advocacy?
Big data on users/members
Theory of change is collective action not microtargeted
Factured media is counter to building shared experience
Microtargeting to introduce people to new narratives
Find what they have in common to frame stories
Running campaigns targeting the opposition voters
Tools work better on transactional behaviors/relationships
Tools may not work as well on persuasion
Don’t limit ourselves to corporate tactics
Knowing your rights about data
Communicate what data is being collected – without being too scary
People unregistering to vote because they’re made aware of voter registration data
What can the companies do?
Transparency – Twitter showing who is behind political advertising
FB struggling to know what to do? Lost internally
Even if regulated, still don’t know what to do to fix it
FB may become unmanageable, start driving users away
Bots talking to bots talking to bots, with lower impact on humans
Internal advocacy at these tech companies
Personally – what can you do?
Checking oppo news etc to both get a broader view and also throw off the algorithms
Companies that scrub your data - Any personal experience
Ex: UC Davis chancellors – on pepper spray incident – got called out
There are proven cases where it works
Germany – you can remove them – Right to be Forgotten in EU
Most cases, paying to push results down to page 40 on Google
Technology exists to remove information
Hacking – what if people are deleting someone else’s data with identity theft
Digi.me – extract personal data from data silos
Mydata.org – Finish website, conference recommended
If you erase things, that sets off another flag
Why can’t we find you? What are you hiding?
Hiring – recommend not Googling
Confusion bot – chrome extension to mess with your data on purpose
Problems data science can solve Early detection Resource allocation Propensity models More info: Problem Templates... kinds of problems that data science can be used to solve:
1. Early detection to trigger a preventative intervention
Example: infectious disease or lead poisoning)
Question you need to ask: how early is possible and useful?
2. How to allocate a limited number of resources to a large number of entities
Example: EPA inspections of hazardous waste facilities)
We don't if a location that is flagged for an inspection has a problem unless we go out and find a violation or fraud.
Note: The goal is not to find violations, but to decrease fraud. Less violations are better if we're looking at the right entities and our inspection is effective.
3. Scheduling and routing mobile resources that respond to incidents
Example: where to place ambulances so they can respond to 911 calls as quickly as possible
4. Routing a large number of requests to the right placed for a response
Example: Automatically triaging a 311 line
5. What procedures/policies should I implement to improve a situation?
Example: improve maternal morality
Process: identify a few possible "levers" and run randomized control trial
6. How much impact is a policy procedure having (after already implementing it)?
7. What data should I collect that will help me do something?
Example: in matching employees and employers, what information is helpful for doing that (sometimes called dataification)
We didn’t talk about actually using psyops / disinformation
Main points: 1. Rights and awareness 2. Regulations 3. Transparency 4. Media literacy